ROAD TO ELECTIVE CONFERENCE: Aaron Motsoaledi admits strong police presence unsettled ANC Eastern Cape conference delegates


Former ANC Eastern Cape treasurer Babalo Madikizela’s lobby group is said to have been behind the decision by senior party members to chuck out police during the closed sessions of the provincial conference held at the East London International Convention Centre over the weekend.

This is according to ANC National Executive Committee (NEC) convener for the Eastern Cape Aaron Motsoaledi. He said media reports of possible violence at the conference were overstated.

In an interview with  Daily Maverick, Motsoaledi said that a request had been made for the police to be removed as Maliya lobby delegates had said it was uncomfortable to have debates while they lingered around the venue. 

“There was an exaggeration over the weekend at the conference by the media who believed that there was imminent violence. It was just a debate where people were asking questions and many of them complained that when they raised questions they were accused of trying to collapse the conference.

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“They even asked that ‘please remove the police, we cannot debate with the police inside the hall’ and they were removed. It is true that security was there, but it is because of the history of the Eastern Cape; it would have been a mistake for us not to organise security,” he said.

In 2017, the provincial elective conference that was also held in East London degenerated into chaos and violence when delegates hurled chairs at each other during the adoption of the delegates’ credentials.

At the weekend,  posters about the police presence were circulated on social media, supposedly by delegates. 

“They have planted security personnel inside the conference venue for purposes of intimidating you. Do not be intimidated by these unwarranted attacks. The ANC belongs to you,” the posts read. 

Uniformed police were stationed at all corners of the East London ICC throughout the weekend and were on high alert in case of any violence.

Security guards were also present at some entrances of the conference venue.

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Conference delays

The conference, which was meant to begin on Friday, only formally started proceedings on Saturday, which meant that an extra day had to be added to the programme.

On Saturday, proceedings hit a snag when members from the Dr WB Rubusana region sent a legal letter to the party on their urgent application to the Eastern Cape Division of the High Court in East London.

The court had granted ANC members of the region urgency for their bid to prove that branches had been manipulated and should, therefore, not be allowed to participate in the conference. 

The matter was, however, struck off the roll with costs.

Even on Sunday, it took ages for credentials to be adopted as there were several issues raised by delegates.

Delegates aligned to Madikizela were still disgruntled over the Dr WB Rubusana region’s involvement in the voting process. There were also queries about veterans who had been listed as voting delegates. Some argued that there was no legitimate veterans’ structure in the province, so it made no sense for them to participate. 

The steering committee, which consists of NEC members, held a three-hour meeting to solve these issues. Credentials were then adopted. Voting started late on Sunday night* and ended in the early hours of Monday morning.

Oscar Mabuyane was re-elected to lead the province alongside Mlungisi Mvoko, Lulama Ngcukayitobi, Helen Sauls-August and Zolile Williams. 

The crowd roared when they heard that Mabuyane had managed to get 812 votes. His supporters rushed to the stage to congratulate him through song and dance.

On Tuesday, the party announced the members who had been voted in as officials of the provincial executive committee (PEC). 

Former Eastern Cape provincial task team head of communications Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams was sixth on the list, which means she will continue working within the province. 

Former Nelson Mandela Bay councillor Andile Lungisa was selected as one of the additional 30 members on the PEC.

Andile Lungisa, was released on parole in 2020 after serving jail time for an assault conviction. During a chaotic Nelson Mandela Bay council session in 2016, Lungisa smashed a water jug over the head of DA councillor Rayno Kayser. Lungisa was an ANC councillor at the time.

This past weekend Lungisa contested and lost the provincial treasurer position to Zolile Williams, the municipal manager at Joe Gqabi district.

Those who did not make the cut include transport MEC Weziwe Tikana-Gxothiwe, who contested the deputy secretary position and Madikizela.

After losing to Mabuyane, Madikizela announced he would resign from his position as public works MEC.

Renewal and unity

The steps towards organisational renewal were heavily emphasised throughout the conference, first by national party chairperson Gwede Mantashe in his opening statement, Mabuyane in the political report and then party president Cyril Ramaphosa who delivered his closing statements at the conference on Monday. 

Mantashe urged delegates not to allow the contests to divide the province and warned that members should be working on the ground towards mending the ANC’s relationship with citizens. 

He mentioned the party’s dismal performance in the 2021 local government elections, adding that it was time for ANC members to change their attitudes.

“Our back is against the wall, we must make sure that we continue to govern. We did badly in the local government elections because we are not connecting with people and we have arrogance. The trust deficit is an outcome of arrogance when dealing with society.

“The Eastern Cape is the governing party in the Eastern Cape and should maintain it. If local elections were national, the ANC would have lost Gauteng. We have forgotten that the ANC must be located amongst the people,” Mantashe said. 

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During the political report which was delivered by Mabuyane, he said that the renewal project should involve isolating any alien, corrupt networks, elements that were not aligned with the values and principles of the ANC. 

“Renewal should mean a complete process to reimagine and reshape the movement. Even the outcomes of the Zondo commission should be viewed as the opportunity for the ANC to do a deep soul searching and examine our processes, systems, assumptions, cultures — whether they are truly aligned with the rule of law, constitutions and expectation of the society,” Mabuyane said. 

Motsoaledi said he, with other NEC members, would assist the province with renewing itself.

“Mr Babalo Madikizela said this morning that he has instructed his supporters to support the people who have won, the newly elected leadership, and he has advised them to accept the results and that he himself is not going to court and he advises his supporters not to go to court. 

“In the conference, one of the agenda items was done by a team from Luthuli House about the renewal process. Now what it means is that we as deployees must help the Eastern Cape in this renewal project. 

“They themselves must continue because renewal itself is a process which will take some time,” he said. DM

* This article was updated to correct a factual error at 11.05am on 11 May 2022.

 

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